Finalists to Take the Stage for CJ Poetry Out Loud

Second Update: On Monday, February 11, Agnes Guiselin '20 was named a regional champion for Ohio's Poetry Out Loud competition. She will now compete at the state competition on Friday, March 8 at the King Arts Complex in Columbus. Congratulations!


Update: Congratulations to Agnes Guiselin '20, who will represent CJ on Monday, February 11 in the regional competition! Chloe Proffitt ‘21 was named the winner of the CJ competition, but unfortunately was not able to compete in the future competitions. Guiselin was named the runner-up, and will compete for CJ in the future contests.

Congratulations to all participants!


First report: 15 students will take to the CJ stage in hopes of being named the school’s Poetry Out Loud finalist on Monday, January 28.

“CJ has had great success with our Poetry Out Loud finalists winning local and state competitions, and qualifying for the National Poetry Out Loud Contest,” said English teacher Mike Kelly ‘87. “In the past eleven years, we have had four school winners win the Ohio state competition and go to Washington, D.C. to compete in the finals — including Caroline Delaney '18, who went last year. Each of the four has represented Ohio well.  

“I believe the caliber of the fifteen finalists this year is as strong as we have ever had. In this group, I believe we will find a champion who will have a great shot at winning the Ohio competition and joining the other four as Ohio representatives.”

The finalists were asked to share which poems they would be reciting for the school finals and what they were most looking forward to with the competition.

Mia Brown ‘21
“I will be reciting Respiration by Jamaal May and I Know, I Remember, but How Can I Help You by Hayden Carruth. I actually did not choose Respiration for myself. A friend showed it to me before the competition and I fell in love with it. After that I decided to do it. As for the second poem, it was easily the most beautiful poem I had ever read. It was an easy decision to choose it. I am greatly honored to be named a finalist. I worked very hard on it and I am so glad that it payed off. The Poetry Out Loud experience connects me with so many amazing people from different grades. It encourages me to see how I can relate to other people's art and experiences.”

Grace Delaney ‘21
“I will be reciting The Cross of Snow by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and I felt a Funeral, in my Brain by Emily Dickinson. I chose these poems because they are full of emotion that I could portray and they had some factor that I could stress and show. I could tell a story with poems. This is the first time I am a finalist, and I am very happy, and proud of myself. I try to stray from doing things that people can use to compare me to my sister, the state champion, and this didn't separate me from her, but I am still proud of myself for it.”

Agnes Guiselin ‘20
“I will be reciting Song in a Minor Key and The Legend. When it came to picking my poems I search for something that catches the eye, something with a story. I finally ended up choosing these two because of their potential and because of the emotion I can emit while reciting them. This is the first time that I am a finalist and I am ecstatic to see where this experience will bring me and what it will bring me, whether a winner or not.”

Kerry Kadel ‘21
“I am reciting E.E. Cummings' I Carry Your Heart With Me and Claude McKay's After the Winter. I chose them because they're both about love and loving someone or something. This is my first time being a finalist and I'm very nervous but excited! I love poetry in general and love writing it! I have a couple poetry books back at my house that I like to reread!”

Anna Kutter ‘19
“As of now, I plan on reciting Where the Wild Things Go by D. Gilson and A Certain Kind of Eden by Kay Ryan, but it's fully possible that I will change my mind. I chose these poems because I feel like they tell stories and read more like monologues, which is my favorite kind of poetry. This is my fourth year doing Poetry Out Loud and my third year as a finalist. The ability to recite poetry like this is an interesting skill that's not quite like any other performative technique."

Erin McGraw ‘20
“For the final round, I will be reciting Memory as a Hearing Aid by Tony Hoagland and A Song in the Front Yard by Gwendolyn Brooks. I chose these poems because I feel as if they tell a story and, in my opinion, when they are read aloud, there is a new body top them. They are better understood out loud which is why Poetry Out Loud is so cool. The Poetry Out Loud experience is definitely one that I would recommend. It was for sure outside of my comfort zone, but I am so happy that I pushed myself into it because it really showed me a new connection to poetry that made me love it even more!”

Madison Meixner ‘20
“I will be reciting The Gift by Li-Young Lee and Monstrance Man by Ricardo Pau-Llosa.  I chose these poems because I find the story they tell beautiful and the imagery is tactile. It feels very flattering to be back on stage. I like knowing that I am able to share these poems that I have really come to enjoy.”

Chloe Proffitt ‘21
“I will be reciting Bleeding Heart by Carmen Giménez Smith and Nude Descending a Staircase. I chose the first poem because I've matured into a more controlled and astute person but I still feel an enormous amount of empathy. I chose the second poem because of the easier rhythm which is good for a second poem and it's message of unabashed self love for the female body. I'm a sophomore and this is my second time as a Poetry Out Loud finalist. It feels absolutely wonderful to be back up on stage, I love performing. I've missed the pure emotions of reciting a piece of poetry.”

Matthew Willis ‘20
“I will be reciting the poems The Affliction of Richard by Robert Bridges and The Obligation to be Happy by Linda Pastan. I chose these poems because I really was attracted to the messages they both convey. I feel that I am more than capable of articulating these ideas to an audience with my voice and presence. This is my first time being a finalists for Poetry Out Loud and I am very excited about the opportunity. It feels good to work on something hard and be able to execute it. Since I play sports preparation is very key and continuing to practice my poems have instilled that mentality in me. Performing in front of an audience is something athletes have to get used to and Poetry Out Loud has been helpful to me in that regard.”

Good luck to all finalists!

Finalists pictured L-R: Maria Scaccia ‘19, Kelly Carmody ‘20, Grace Jackson ‘19, Peyton Burrows ‘20, Erin McGraw ‘20, Matthew Willis ‘20, Agnes Guiselin ‘20, Libby Blackshire ‘20, Mia Brown ‘21, Kerry Kadel ‘21, Grace Delaney ‘21, Anna Kutter ‘19. Not pictured: Sarah Benson ‘20, Madison Meixner ‘20, and Chloe Proffitt ‘21.

Posted January 24, 2019; Updated February 4, 2019; Updated February 12, 2019